2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 So Far
So far in the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs all the Western Conference home teams have won their games, except for the Kings. In the East, not so much. Road teams generally rule. Only one series was a sweep and that was unexpected. We’ve had seven overtime games so far, two went to multiple overtimes, with many more to come I’m sure. We also have three series that pit two teams with a 100 points or more against each other. Surprisingly, one of those was a sweep and another could also be a sweep. So much for parity.
A1 Boston Bruins vs. W2 Detroit Red Wings
What we learned: Not your typical 1 versus 8
Things I Like: The Bruins were embarrassed in Game 1 and in Game 2 the Red Wings seemed to provoke them. The Bruins took advantage of the Red Wings miscues and played a really great overall game. Pavel Datsyuk still has it, as his Game 1 winner was superb. In Game 3 it was more Boston. Tuukka Rask is still playing really well. So well in fact he’s only given up two goals so far.
Things I Don’t: Jimmie Howard is going to have to play better if the Red Wings hope to steal this series. Gustav Nyquist is not generating scoring chances anymore. He’s going to have to because he’s the biggest reason the Red Wings are even playing Boston. The Red Wings also need more shots. You won’t score many goalies on Rask when you don’t even get 25 shots a game. Although they almost got 35 in Game 2 and it didn’t matter. The Red Wings have nine powerplays in the series and no goals. That won’t get it done.
Likely Winner: Bruins, I’d be shocked if the Red Wings won.
A2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. A3 Montreal Canadiens
What we learned: The Lightning really have no luck
Things I like: PK Subban is playing great and so is Carey Price. I really don’t think Price can play any better. It’s hard to score against the Canadiens when those two are playing well. Game 1 was a great way to open the playoffs. It featured great play from both teams, lots of breakaways and an overtime. Daniel Briere still has it in the playoffs. No idea why the Flyers didn’t want him anymore. Loved the resiliency by Steven Stamkos in coming back after that big hit in Game 3 but that probably wasn’t the best decision health wise. Love the fire he showed in Game 4 too. Strangely Max Pacioretty didn’t score all series but the Canadiens won anyway. Of course, that was until he got the series winner with under a minute to go. It’ll be interesting to see if that gets him going or not.
Things I don’t: The Lightning first suffered an injury to Steven Stamkos, then traded their captain and then lost Ben Bishop down the stretch. In Game 3, the Lightning had a goal disallowed for a phantom goal interference call. They also watched the Canadiens score a few minutes later when, I believe it was Ondrej Palat, had his stick get caught in the back of the net which cause him to flip and lose his man. In other words, it’s just not the Lightnings’ year. Steven Stamkos isn’t a complete enough player, yet, to just take over a game and impose his will on his teammates and the other team. The Lightning completely went away from their style of play in Game 2 and got creamed. Not sure what that was about. Anders Lindback plays 75% of the game on his knees. Despite being tall, he isn’t tall enough to cover the whole net doing that. The Lightning will never win a playoff series with him in net doing that. They should just switch to Kristers Gudlevskis permanently. The Lightning defense isn’t any better either. The defenseman look like they don’t know who they should have.
Likely Winner: Canadiens, well it’s over so…
M1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. W1 Columbus Blue Jackets
What we learned: Don’t underestimate the Blue Jackets
Things I like: All have been one goal games so far. This series reminds me a lot of the Islanders series the Penguins had last season. The only difference is the Blue Jackets have a good goalie and Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t played horribly. But I honestly thought the Islanders had more talent than the Blue Jackets but that’s not really the case. Fleury had a few moments that were bad but overall he’s rebounding well from last year’s playoff debacle.
Things I don’t: Giving up that late 2nd period goal in Game 3 killed the Blue Jackets. The Penguins had new life and scored all the goals in the 3rd period. I still wonder about the Penguins defense and their powerplay is not what it should be considering they were first in the NHL during the season. The lack of effort by Jussi Jokinen on the Blue Jackets overtime Game 2 winner was appalling.
Likely Winner: Penguins, but they really should be worried. Most of the games could have gone either way. If they can’t win this series they should just blow up the team.
M2 New York Rangers vs. M3 Philadelphia Flyers
What we learned: It’s starting to get snippy
Things I like: The Rangers had some sick passing in Game 2 particularly on the powerplay. The determination shown by Wayne Simmonds as he scored the empty net goal in Game 3. Ray Emery got chased in Game 3 and Steve Mason came back from his injury. It’s likely he will start Game 4. That might give the Flyers a boost. As we get deeper into the series there’s more extracurricular activities and it’s been entertaining to watch.
Things I don’t: I’m not sure how you can screw up taking the goalie off for an extra skater but the Rangers managed to do it. Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t even close to the bench when the Rangers had the sixth man on the ice. Just a stupid penalty to take in Game 2. Dan Carcillo was wrongfully accused of a hooking penalty in Game 3 and almost got thrown out of the game when he voiced his displeasure to the ref. He got his revenge a few minutes later though when he tipped in a nifty pass that ended up chasing Emery, who should have had his stick down on the play.
Likely Winner: Rangers, they play well on the road and they have the better goalie.
C1 Colorado Avalanche vs. W1 Minnesota Wild
What we learned: The young Avalanche players have mad skills.
Thing I like: Nathan MacKinnon is having a breakout postseason. Sidney Crosby will have some competition in the regular season scoring race finally. The Gabriel Landeskog goal assisted by Paul Stastny and Nathan MacKinnon was just unreal. MacKinnon and Stastny both lead the playoffs in scoring at seven points a piece. Mikael Granlund’s overtime winner in Game 3 on his belly. Two of the games have gone into overtime and all were thrilling games. Darcy Kuemper came back in the end of Game 2 and pitched a shutout in Game 3. The Wild are glad to have him back. Semyon Varlamov has played well in his first playoff action in some time.
Things I don’t: There’s not much to not like in this series. Ilya Bryzgalov might be the only thing but he’s mostly played well. Most of the goals he let in he didn’t have much of a chance. Zach Parise has four assists so far but in eight playoff games for the Wild he has one goal, not good.
Likely Winner: Avalanche, the Wild will give them a run for the money but in the end, the Avalanche just have a little more talent and home ice.
C2 St. Louis Blues vs. C3 Chicago Blackhawks
What we learned: The Blackhawks have no discipline
Things I like: This has been the closest, and probably best, series so far. Both of these teams could go all the way but one will go home early. All the games have been one goal games and the first two games went into overtime. If it wasn’t for the bad goal Ryan Miller gave up in Game 3, it would have been three overtime games. Corey Crawford really need that Game 3 shutout for his confidence. He’s been under siege though, facing 117 shots so far and 52 in Game 1.
Things I don’t: The Blackhawks basically gave the Blues Game 2. The penalties they took were horrible. Additionally, Duncan Keith was doing so many childish things before the whistle on face offs and Brent Seabrook was hitting dirty. Despite all that they almost won Game 2 but their penalties caught up with them in the end. Nothing else comes to mind.
Likely Winner: Blackhawks but I could see the Blues winning as well. I’m going to stick with my original pick though.
P1 Anaheim Ducks vs. W2 Dallas Stars
What we learned: The Ducks always make it interesting
Things I like: Ryan Getzlaf is showing why he is in the running for the Hart Trophy. He’s even blocking shots with his face. Jamie Benn had to play well and he has. He has a point in every game so far. Frederik Andersen has played well in his first playoff series ever. I feel for Jonas Hiller but he didn’t play well enough down the stretch to start the series.
Things I don’t: After cruising out to a 4-0 lead, The Ducks took their foot off the gas and managed to eek out a 4-3 win in Game 1 typical Ducks’ fashion. Which is never playing a complete game. The Ducks had one of those egg laying games in Game 3 that they are known for. I guess if they bounce back it doesn’t really matter. But it’s hard to imagine how such a talented team can play those kinds of games from time to time. The Ducks got lucky in Game 2 when the ref didn’t call a slashing penalty that led to a Stars’ broken stick and the game winner. You can’t miss those calls in the playoffs if you’re a ref.
Likely Winner: Ducks, although they really concern me sometimes.
P2 San Jose Sharks vs. P3 Los Angeles Kings
What we learned: What the heck happened to the Kings defense?
Things I like: Game 3 and it was about time. That’s what we were hoping the series would be. Even the whole time, exciting, suspenseful and it went into overtime. The Sharks are scary deep and have apparently been saving their best for the playoffs. They have a real nice mix of young guns and savvy veterans. This is the hardest hitting series so far. In Game 3 Marian Gaborik had a pretty three on two goal as he took it from center all the way to the back of the net. The Sharks have now won five straight playoff overtime games, which is hard to do.
Things I don’t: The most disappointing thing about this series is the games aren’t close. Hard to imagine after last years close series. I’m not sure when the Kings just flat out forgot how to play defense. They couldn’t even do a defensive change correctly. Although Jonathan Quick isn’t getting much help, the days were he can steal you a game or two is clearly over. The Kings are still having problems scoring goals. Which is hard to imagine when you have four players on the team that have scored over 30 goals in a season. The defense is the catalyst for the Kings offense and Drew Doughty needs to get involved more.
Likely Winner: Sharks, I feel for the Kings. They really should have won Game 3. They’ll probably win Game 4 and that will be it.
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
April 16, 2003 Mark Recchi scored two goals, including the game-winner at 13:54 of the 3rd overtime as the Flyers won 3-2 at Toronto, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals. Ed Belfour made 72 saves for the losing Maple Leafs.
April 17, 1980 Bruins and Islanders combined to set an NHL playoff record for most penalty minutes in one period, with 248 in the first at Boston. Each team received 124 minutes. Bob Bourne went on to score after 84 seconds of overtime, as the Isles won 5-4.
April 18, 1967 Toronto rookie Brian Conacher scored twice as the Maple Leafs won 3-1 over the visiting Chicago Black Hawks, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. With the win, Toronto advanced to the Finals against Montreal.
April 19, 2002 Martin Brodeur became just the second goaltender in NHL history to make 100 consecutive playoff starts for one club, when he played for the New Jersey Devils in a 2-1 loss at Carolina, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals.
April 20, 1993 Grant Fuhr recorded his third career playoff shutout to lead the Sabres to a 4-0 playoff win over the Bruins, in Game Two of the Adams Division Semi-Finals at Boston. It was Fuhr’s first playoff shutout since 1989.
April 21, 1951 Toronto’s Bill Barilko scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal at 2:53 of overtime to defeat Montreal 3-2 in Game 5 of the Finals. It was the only Stanley Cup series in NHL history in which every game ended in overtime.
April 22, 1990 Kings set a team playoff record for fastest two goals, when Larry Robinson and Todd Elik scored just 11 seconds apart in the first period in Game 3 of the Smythe Division Finals against Edmonton, at the Forum. Kings lost 5-4 to the Oilers.
Author: Alex Mueller
Alex Mueller graduated from Temple University with a minor in journalism over a decade ago. He’s been writing about NHL hockey, on and off, since the Fall of 2009. He’s written for Pucking Awesome, the Checking Line and now Hockey Recaps. He played goalie at San Diego Ice Arena. His first novel, Bobby Sterling vs Truth, is available on Amazon now.